Today the Supreme Court heard the cases against the Forest Rights Act. The Central government chose not to argue on the main question of evicting people, but instead just pointed out that due process have not always been followed, in response to a question from the court. Seven states have not yet filed their reply affidavits.
The Court hence directed that the State governments who haven’t filed replies should do so within fifteen days and the matter will next be heard on September 12th.
The Court also directed state governments to supply information about rejected claims to the Forest Survey of India by August 31st. We hope this question is challenged in the next hearing, as this reliance on satellite imagery is not in accordance with law and is dangerous (see last question here).
The order putting evictions on hold continues – and any State government attempting to evict people on the pretext of this case is not only violating the law but also the court’s order.
We are disappointed that the petitioners’ attempt to distort both the law and the facts has still not been fully challenged and the eviction order is still only “on hold”, as opposed to being withdrawn. This order emerged out of the Centre’s failure to defend the law in 2017 and 2018. We and many forest communities of this country will continue to fight for the Central government to do its job in court, defend the law and have this order withdrawn.
Campaign for Survival and Dignity